Transforming the way we meet illness, aging, and death is the work of New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care.
As we celebrate our 10th year we also celebrate those who dare to be brave and creative, becoming intimate with their own suffering to alleviate the suffering of others.
Kristin Knox, a current student in Foundations in Contemplative Care, illustrates the integration of training, care, and practice that NYZCCC is committed to.
My mother’s cancer came back in 2013. At the time, I was living in London and working in the fashion industry. I returned to New York, leaving behind my friends and career to care for her. Nine months later, she died.
Years passed, but my grief did not. Groundlessness amplified. I drifted from group work to therapy, yoga, and other healing modalities, but was unable to find the support I needed. Then, the chaplain who guided us through home hospice suggested I reach out to the NYZCCC, and I began meeting with Chodo for one-on-one bereavement. Opening our first session, Chodo asked my mother’s name. That’s when I realized: it had been years since I’d uttered those syllables out loud – Noriko.
Chodo helped me to reach deeply into my loss, without trying to fix or change it. He made space for me to make space for myself. The longer we looked at my sorrow together, the more it changed. Our final session coincided with the third anniversary of my mother’s death, which Chodo commemorated with a small service in the zendo, just like the one my Japanese relatives were holding at the temple far away in Tokyo.
Now, another year has passed, and I’m a student in the Foundations in Contemplative Care training. Though I don’t yet know where my path will lead, I do know that Chodo’s unwavering compassion irrevocably altered it; he opened my heart to what it means to offer loving presence to someone who is suffering. Without my Foundations fellows and the entire NYZCCC community, I wouldn’t be where I am today. That is, learning how to stay, or softening the line between giving and receiving care.
With gratitude and reverence,
Foundations in Contemplative Care 2017-2018
Your support will help NYZCCC continue its work training care givers and caring for those in their most vulnerable moments. Please click below to contribute to New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care’s Year-End Campaign.